Monday, June 27, 2011
What gay marriage passing in New York means to me
I have had three, male best friends in my life - one from middle school, one from high school, and one from college - and all three of them are gay. None of them were fully aware of this fact when I met them at ages 12, 14 and 18, respectively but one by one they came to the realization and subsequently out to me. All three currently lead happy, successful lives - one of them in my former city, two of them in my same city, and one of those two in my same house. No, I do not believe there is any notable correlation between the three, and no I do not believe that I turn men gay. I will say that if you need advice on how to react when a close friends tells you he's gay, I'm your girl.
It goes without saying that my life is extremely gay friendly and that I have clearly always connected with gay men. This very well could be because of all the stereotypes of gays and girls that I won't list here because they're generally true but rarely 100% fair (i.e. gays love to gossip just like girls...). This could just as easily be because I met three incredible men who have been incredible friends.
Despite our obvious differences we have never struggled to connect or communicate about any issues in either of our lives. I am the kind of person who knows very quickly whether or not I can be very good friends with someone, and those someone's have always been few and far between. With my three guys the connection was instant and enduring.
But as we've gotten older and conversation has shifted from where we'll go to college to where we'll make a life, I started to feel the first real difference between the way I saw the next phase of my life versus their version of the same decade ahead. So much of this post-grad phase is about how you organize each move around you ultimate goal. Who am I now, yes, but who do I want to be when I'm 35 and what choices will I make to get me to those goals? It's undeniable that relationships are a huge part of that progression, and so they were always a huge part of what my guy friends and I discussed. Which is where the unfortunate difference reared its uncomfortable head...
I could, desire to and will likely get married. They couldn't.
We would still talk about marriage in the general sense - whether or not we could see ourselves marrying whatever guy we were dating, where we'd want to live after we were married, etc. - but for them it was always, "if I even can..." For better or worse our culture views marriage as the official and accepted way to mark a life-long partnership. I don't know if I think this is right or wrong, good or bad - I just know that it is ingrained. And I know that not being able to get married affects how you see yourself and your place in the already confusing world of committed relationships.
To me this epic decision in New York is about history, acceptance, and of course equality. But even more than that it's about gay men and women sharing in a sacred tradition that goes far beyond a wedding reception The deepest effects of inequality are not in what the laws and paperwork do and don't allow but in how they divide us from our closest friends. Yes it is about equal rights and equal protections, but it is just as much about equal hopes and dreams. I'm grateful to the state of New York for making it so that my three best guy friends and I can add one very important element to the list of hopes and dreams we already share.